SCRIPTURE TEXT: “Moreover let us also be full of joy now!  Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and rejoice in our sufferings knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance.  And endurance fortitude develops maturity of character that is approved faith and tried integrity.  And character of this sort produces the habit of joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation.”—Romans 5:3-4 (Amplified).
Persecution is part of the Christian faith as Jesus Himself tells us in John 15:18-20 and yet suffering for our faith in Jesus Christ is something most believers would do anything to avoid. In fact, most believers will rather take the route of least resistance especially in these days when false teachers and prophets are saying that when you come to Christ all your problems will be solved.  What the Bible rather teaches is that when we believe in Christ Jesus as Savior and Lord and begin to live godly and righteous lives we will be persecuted.  Persecution comes because the forces of darkness hate the way of light because light exposes the deeds of evil.
Thousands are said to have died during the Mau Mau uprising during the reign terror of General Idi Amin. Millions also suffered during the Soviet era.  Even now many people in the Middle East, China, Indonesia and other parts of the Far East as well as here on the African continent continue to suffer imprisonment, torturing and of basic human rights such as good education and jobs because they have converted to Christianity.
What should Christians do when they are faced with persecution?  Should they flee or resist or tone down their outward signs of faith?  The answer is a resounding NO because suffering is an expected part of a life of sincere faith (2 Tim 3:12).

PRAYER: Dear God, Help me to remain strong during persecution, and let me keep my faith unto the end. Amen



1 Peter 4:1-5

What is the connection between suffering and purity for the Christian? These are not terms we usually consider together, but Peter says those who suffer physically cease from sin and no longer live for human lusts. Instead, they live for the will of God. That is not to say we’ll reach a level of sinless perfection but, rather, the power of sin in our lives will be broken.

According to today’s passage, we are engaged in a battle, and Peter says to arm ourselves with the same attitude Christ had in His suffering. Just as He willingly submitted to the Father’s will and went to the cross, so we must accept that suffering is likewise part of God’s will for our life. It’s one of the ways He purifies us and breaks any attachment to our previous sinful desires.

As believers, we are called to live differently from the world around us. This doesn’t mean we’re to be deliberately antagonistic, but our lifestyle should be an example of purity. Others may find this offensive because it exposes their sin, and then they may respond by maligning us in an attempt to make themselves feel better.

Although we want the world to be attracted to Christ by our transformed lives, in reality we may make others uncomfortable or perhaps even antagonistic. This is why so many Christians around the world are being persecuted and even killed for their faith. But every time the church has faced persecution, it has also been purified and made stronger. God never intends for suffering to defeat us. Rather, His purpose is for it to make us holy and effective witnesses for Christ.

Bible in One Year: John 1-3

SOURCE: Culled from In Touch Ministries